Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Deers and Alligators and Loggerheads, oh my!

Question: What did we do on my 43rd birthday back in September?

Answer: We took a trip to Fripp...Fripp Island, South Carolina.

It's about half way between Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia. According to Wikipedia, Fripp Island is often seen as an alternative, affordable, and less "touristy" destination compared with its large neighbor Hilton Head Island. Fripp has garnered national attention as a leading beach destination in South Carolina. It still remains relatively uncrowded in comparison to Hilton Head and commercial activity is heavily restricted. The most seaward of the South Carolina Sea Islands, Fripp Island is known for its scenic beauty and island resort amenities.

Being used to the pristine white beaches of the gulf coast of Florida, we weren't quite charmed by the natural beauty of the beaches right away. But as our little holiday progressed we became more intrigued with the primitive quality of the beaches and coasts. The entire island is comprised of a Bird and Game Sanctuary. Wildlife and bird populations include alligators, deer, raccoons, egrets, heron, and osprey. And we saw them all...some very closely.

Wild Fripp

The deer on the island was plentiful. They were all over the place. I swore that one morning I was going to step out onto the screened in porch to find the deer with a sign around it's neck saying, "Will work for food".


Most of our time was spent exploring the island on the golf cart and trying to see if we could figure out where Pat Conroy lived. In doing so we discovered all the places where we could go swimming. Our favorite place was where there were three pools, a hot tub, a pool side bar (not opened at the time...Newman!), a beach area for the kids to play while we, in theory, drank adult beverages and it overlooked the ocean. It was idyllic.

The good life

Gavin got some golf lessons from Papa. We lounged around and enjoyed the view.

golf at Fripp

The beach was more a place for us to explore than to sunbathe and swim on. Although, I'd say give us a few times of vacationing there and we'd figure out the tidal system well enough to work that out.


The kids loved it and the pictures show it.

Fripp Love II

But the highlight of the trip came at our last evening there. The Fripp Island community is very committed to the protection of the loggerhead turtles. Each spring the Loggerhead Turtle comes in from the sea to dig her nest in the soft sands on Fripp Island. The Fripp Island Turtle Nest Protection program insures that the nests are protected from predators and that the hatchlings make their way back home to the ocean. We were fortunate to be able to witness the volunteers checking a loggerhead's nest three days after the eggs were to have hatched. Many times there are hatchlings that don't make their way out of the nest because of debris or unhatched eggs keeping them in the sand. The volunteers check the nests around the time of hatching and look for "flipper prints" in the sand, signs of the tiny turtles making their way back to the ocean. Then three days later volunteers will open the nest to see if any got left behind.

When we were there the volunteers discovered four loggerhead hatchlings that hadn't been able to get out on their own. So we got to help them! Actually, Anna Mae got to help them. After the volunteers let the turtles get a feel for the sand, they chose children who were watching to help carry them to the ocean's edge to let them go back home. Anna decided she wanted to name her turtle "Gavin" because Gavin had to leave earlier that day with Patrick to go back to school.

loggerhead rescue

I even got to get some of Gavin, the baby loggerhead turtle's homecoming on video. Not the best sound quality but it was exciting for us. We were all surprised by how strong the three day old loggerhead turtle was. You might wonder who is the crazy lady talking in the back...uh, that's me...sounding crazy.

So all in all, Fripp was a wonderful place to just relax. Not much to do but that. If we go in the summer they have day camps for the kids (hint hint) and more opportunities I'm sure for adult beverages. But I loved the fact that it wasn't a commercial place but just homes and condos to take in God's handiwork, a game of golf, a few sets of tennis, build a sand castle or two...oh, and save some turtles too.

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1 comment:

Carol Annie said...

I love the pictures Kelly! Amused to see the alligator signs. I remember seeing them in Tampa!